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Eye of the Crow: His First Case: 12/29/11

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I'm not entirely sure when my obsession with Sherlock Holmes began. The Basil Rathbone movies probably came first. The books I started reading in eighth grade. I was on a school field trip and I read through a collection of the short stories on the bus ride there and back. By the end of college my mother introduced me to a new take on Sherlock by Laurie R. King, The Beekeeper's Apprentice which has grown to a twelve book series.

This summer while waiting for book twelve, The Pirate King (review coming), I have been reading through some middle grade Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Mostly I read the Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer but I also read Eye of the Crow by Shane Peacock. Peacock's book falls into the "Young Sherlock" category of stories. Like the film Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) with the awesome CGI stained glass knight, Sherlock is once again thirteen and facing a mystery that puts a woman he loves in dire peril. This first mystery is designed to show his raw talent and the diamond in the rough that will become the refined consulting-detective of Baker Street, London.

While Doyle didn't include much about Sherlock's childhood (or personal life outside of his detective work), Sherlock does mention being from a long line of country squires. So usually when Sherlock's home life is shown, it's on a small estate somewhere, usually with somewhat progressive parents, or absent parents who don't mind their son's usual hobbies.

Peacock, though, in Eye of the Crow, decides to put Sherlock and his family in near poverty, due his mother (of the country squire line) marrying a recent Jewish immigrant, a former scientist who now can't find work.

Sherlock's mixed ethnicity puts the police on his tail as they think he's an accomplice in a grisly murder outside a Muslim run butcher's. While it's an interesting conceit, it just doesn't hold up as the mystery unfolds. Sherlock's parents, father especially, go from being completely absent or at least not caring about him skipping school to helping him sneak around to solve the mystery (at great personal risk).

That brings me to Sherlock's mother. She's never described in the stories but she appears (briefly) in the Enola Holmes series and of course in The Eye of the Crow. In Peacock's book, she ends up being a victim and a catalyst for Sherlock's desire to use his street smarts to solve mysteries.

Given my options, I prefer Nancy Springer's take on Sherlock's mother. She's just as crafty as he is, and more likely to rebel, being burned out by years of playing a proper country squire's widow. She wants her freedom and she takes it (along with most of Mycroft's money). Her Bohemian attitude makes me smile and just fits better with the gestalt of Sherlock Holmes.

Three stars.

Wikipedia articles on Sherlock:

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Comment #1: Friday, December, 30, 2011 at 03:56:49

Nina @ Death Books and Tea

Ooh, I have a slight obsession with Sherlock too! This seems like an interesting take...will have to check it out!

Comment #2: Wednesday, January 04, 2011 at 21:44:35


As an origin story it was interesting but flawed. I might try the second book to see how young Sherlock matures.

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